Joe Jackson

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

Joe Jackson

Volume 4 (Rykodisc) In the early days of New Wave, Joe Jackson was always in the shadow of his contemporaries Elvis Costello and Graham Parker. Like them, he had literate, often witty lyrics, an idiosyncratic voice, and a crack band to back him up. In the years since, Jackson's l979 debut, Look Sharp!, has become a sort of forgotten classic, with spiky guitar work by Gary Sanford, a propulsive rhythm section comprised of Graham Maby and Dave Houghton, and crystalline production. Drawing equally from punk and New Wave both, it sounds as good today as it did 20-plus years ago, which can't always be said for much of his contemporaries' work. After Look Sharp! and its slightly lesser follow-up I'm the Man, Jackson went in other directions (swing, neo-classical, pop) and more or less fell off the radar screen. Volume 4, then, isn't so much a comeback as it's a return to form, reuniting Jackson with that original band. It's a sort of stylistic buffet, ranging from the slinky wah-wah rhythm guitar of "Fairy Dust," upbeat neo-ska of "Thugs Are Us," frantic "Bright Grey," and rock stomp of "Little Bit Stupid." "Chrome" is as hard and shiny as the metal itself, and the kickoff track "Take It Like a Man" hooks the ear with a jerky beat and bassline. Volume 4 is probably too idiosyncratic to get much radio airplay, but maybe the live bonus disc with revved up versions of the old classics will. Either way, it's good to see Jackson back in the game again. (Auditorium Shores, Saturday, March 15, 6:30pm; Austin Music Hall, Saturday, March 15, midnight)


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Wednesday Interview
Wednesday Interview
Delta Spirit

Jim Caligiuri, March 20, 2015

Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
First night SXSW Music recommendations and hints

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Jerry Renshaw
SXSW Live Shots
Export Sweden Showcase

March 19, 2004

SXSW Live Shots
Amsterdam Calling

March 19, 2004

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle